Distilling permaculture knowledge[edit source]

Can we distill the Principles of permaculture into a brief form suitable to immediately after an emergency? Things you can use in a few minutes or a few hours, and even key ideas to put into "just in case" checklists that people might put on the door of their fridge. E.g. what to consider when seeking shelter or erecting a shelter, and how to collect water.

For some contexts: which places will be best for planting a garden (so don't put your shelter there). Not sure of the details on that one, since people who are that vulnerable are likely to be farmers and know more about food growing than most of us - which highlights the need to build develop guides with local knowledge.

Appropriateness and understanding the context are central to permaculture - it's very closely related to the idea of appropriate technology. --Chriswaterguy 15:02, 25 February 2011 (PST)

Article reads more like a user subpage[edit source]

This article currently reads like it should be a user subpageW rather than an article, with many sentences written in the first person. Assertions that begin with the pronoun "I" should be attributable. There's nothing wrong with using a wiki as a scratchpad (I do it extensively) but we should keep the article space for information that is either objectively verifiable or at least is in a format that promotes collaboration. It's hard to see how to develop this article without in some way taking an ax to the material now on it, which should really be preserved in the primary author's user space. To attract other collaborators, one must make the path to collaboration clear. Articles should not start off as discussion pages about what should be in the article - it's not clear how to convert that into an article, in place. Supporting material belongs in user space, talk space, and/or project space. That's why wikis have namespaces.W --Teratornis 17:15, 25 February 2011 (PST)

Looking much better now - after you left this comment, Lucas edited the page a lot. --Chriswaterguy 04:19, 28 February 2011 (PST)

Emergency permaculture workspace[edit source]

Name[edit source]

We don't know what name this "beast" will eventually have, but we're starting off with a couple of less than perfect options: emergency permaculture, emergency sustainable agriculture, and maybe others. We'll hammer the concept and hope that, eventually, inspiration will hit us back.

Calling it "permaculture" doesn't quite fit, because generally permaculturists are fond of taking things slow. Supposedly, that's how Nature works when she builds stuff. Fast is for destruction, slow is for building. I'd be glad if someone would provide counter-examples of this, i.e. some process where construction takes place fast. OTOH, permaculture is about "design", and that can happen in a matter of minutes.

If we end up calling it "emergency sustainable agriculture", which is not perfect because there are other sources of food, then we'd have "ESA plans", for region X, Y or Z.

Whatever the name, the concept seems to be hitting the top of the list recently, with a number of crisis happening at the same time, a number of yet other crisis apparently ready to jump on us, and many people working on "compatible" projects, like LaRahna's "convertible community".

Expanded idea: In the concept of a convertible community, there are several agricultural issues being addressed, all at the same time. 1) sustainable agriculture (current permaculture, urban gardening, organic farming, etc concepts fit well), 2) crisis food provisioning (if there is an interruption in the food supply because of a)natural disaster b)economic collapse c)warfare/domestic attack - how do you eat?; and 3)emergency sustainable agriculture (taking a population the shortest most feasable route to being able to provide adequate food to survive).

Thinking about this stuff[edit source]

  • we need a group of people around this, really
  • a vision/outline + plug-in modules
  • this needs heavy thinking
  • but i think its critical
  • i am feeling this convertible community/space concept is going to be of vital importance soon
  • i think if you take out the threats even ... its still a robust chunk to push through. the threats are the why do it ...
  • i can "sell" it as a thought experiment: what if we wanted to reach sustainability in 4 months?

+1 month for preparation

  • i mean, if we want sustainability, why not do that experiment?
  • outline = why, what, how, what-if ... but with specific terms
  • why = brief summary of reasons to join in
  • what = what such a place would look like, how things would work
  • how = things needed for us to get there
  • what-if = exploration of other ideas we might want to include in the model
  • and there's the sense of urgency, yes
  • i don't fully agree with the "emergency permaculture" term, but that we're using is as a provocation = something you use as a springboard to real ideas

Convertible community[edit source]

here is what i see as essential for a convertible community ... a solution that provides

  1. A pre-planned solution to restore (or more likely take) a community to levels of sustainability as quickly as possible
  2. A means for working throug the variables that crisis can present like climate, land condition, region
  3. A kit resonse that provides at least 12 months of planned agriculture and the seeds to correspond
  4. Monkey-proof training to allow crisis stricken people to get their act together and not starve when the rations run out!
  5. Ensuring that the nutritional optimization of crops is considered. The most nutrient and calories possible.
  • sum-up: a set of physical objects and implementable procedures (for advisors and implementers) that lets people go from crisis to post-crisis effectively, swiftly and practically
    • convertible communities (or spaces) need to be prepared in advance = crisis hits means it's too late to be ordering seed catalogs
    • i belive the time is rapidly approaching where "in theory" is not good enough

Sequence[edit source]

The end point of our trip is a human setting in which people grow their own basic food. Given the simple fact that food takes time to grow, we need to look at the sequence of events:

  • We plan 0. This is where we're at, right now. Looking at the whole sequence, trying to make sense of things and design some general approach that may be workable in a number of specific instances, all over the world. Not just the general approach, but very importantly a set of tools that can be used in practice: a parachutable box for a specific number of people.
  • Someone tries. This stuff needs practical learning, much of which has already happened or can happen pretty quickly.
  • You plan 1. Things get personal for you. You look at your environment, possibly through the "6 ways to die" lenses, with some "appreciative inquiry" thrown in, and come up with a map of needs and resources. Some folks live by a river that's full of edible fish. Others are sorrounded by a monoculture of cereal or whatever. Close to a big city there's so much land, with specific resources. "Megalopolis decompression" begs that we look further away than "small town decompression". We need criteria to select locations, plus data, plus actual decisions.
    • FEMA maps
    • WHTC is the natural , logical place for a pandemic flu attack in Atlanta, GA. Far enough from coastal weather threats. Close enough to siphon off people from the flu attack. And decent weather for year round growing.
    • we'd need many such places, so the criteria for selection + the data (satellite) data = a list of real places
    • water
    • whatever other natural resources that we can't possibly include in the parachutable box
  • You prepare. You get seeds and tools, practical knowledge and detailed information. You probably fill up a notebook or its electronic version. Some of the information is automatically gathered when you input your location, if the system knows what grows in your area. You DESIGN, which is a big issue, and what permaculture is all about.
  • Something bad happens. XXX
    • If the "attack" is present poverty, then it's a matter of acting now
    • If the attack is foreseable poverty, as in credit crunch etc, then it's real soon now
    • If the attack is a flu pandemic, then it's whenever it happens, or now if you want to, or on weekends if you're not sure
  • You plan 2. You make a note of the season, what's in your pantry XXX
  • You move XXX
  • You do stuff. Plant, water, protect. Eat from your pantry XXX
  • You enjoy results. Phew, that was close! So now, you take the opportunity and run forward with it. It's not just that you've survived: you want to build something more permanent, stable and simply great.

Chat (to be digested)[edit source]

  • take that and crunch it and you geet something like sweet potatoes, peanuts, collard greens, etc...
  • a list of many real places
  • take that global!
  • the attack:
  • WHTC can take (a bit theory being put into practice) 200 families each with about 2500 cash and abilit y to earn $50/month and make them sustainable, and sheltered ... and even throw in health care. $1000 up front ... about $1500 to build ultra cheap housing and $50/month upkeep.
  • that's a fix for the economic crash but minds must change!
  • i need 200 believers with $1K each! and its a done deal! and really i could do it with 50 believers
  • one more thing for massive stuff: use available resources and build on that - for example, here we grow bananas, so maybe convert some of that land to other things, be ready to do that
  • the payoff is they/you'd be building the booklet for many others, for that price
  • the project holds 10 acres in reserve..5 initially used for spiritual wellness stuff and 5 for training but on paper that could support additional crisis only lots!
  • like camp pads that tie into the off-grid grid for temporary holding of people
  • camp pads? extra lots?
  • yes not big enough to grow on but able to put up a structure for temp living!
  • think camping pad...20'x20' somthing like that
  • that's 20x33=around 7x7 meters, i see
  • not for food growing at all
  • thats about 20/acre vs. the 1/10 acre lots that an individual or small family would have
  • you want believers who are not already in another group? could you accept an already formed group?
  • still thinking the intensive sub-acreage gardening direction
  • so it's containers and seeds and booklet
  • maybe print-on-demand booklet, with local satelite data feed in
  • with tech..it could be dvd,s or such
  • i mean, the whole encyclopedia would be huge, but here? here you do A, B, C.
  • a friend in religiouscircles did a huge info database that was on cd but if you had internet when you clicked the links it went live online and got you current info..if your were offline it got you archived data from disk
  • it was like 100,000 pages of info! on 1 disk
  • https://www.appropedia.org/Global_Food_Swadeshi_Project -- here are all the factors, well, the general factors at least

The time factor[edit source]

  • well yes .. it's like if crisis were to hit in january ... what's the next planting opportunity and what would you plant
  • as in "what would it look like?"
  • but the plan needs to be fluid so if it hit in june ... the same info would be available, just modified for the seasonal change
  • so no matter when crisis hits, there is a plan and the can covers 12 months..so there is a jan and a feb and march packet, etc
  • so "season" is one factor, a variable in the model, an input variable that leads to spitting out * a specific booklet - 50 pages out of 100000 pages
  • season/climate
  • it's planting almanac meets can o seeds!

The location factor[edit source]

  • so, we need to simplify realities and look at a bunch of them, not at a thousand different realities
  • it will give you planing guides..if you hav ethis soil you need to construct raised beds or use a liner system cause crap will grow in your soil ... or greenhouse or ... or ... or ... a plan a, b,c

there are only a few zones ... so if we start with perhaps the growing zones and move out from there

  • i'll summarise the aims for our page, maybe over at the emergency-permaculture appropedia page, and then suggest an outline
  • if we took it from a zone by zone basis. could we pair an almanac planting guide with some intel on the most nutritious efficient mix..something like that
  • and basic gardening tech...sq ft, key hole, the skills of gardeing and spit out an ondemand guide
  • there must be some work done already, on zones
  • i think zones will reduce the bulk of it
  • and get it manageable
  • i guess it looks like a tree: biosphere ... 12 zones ... 12 thousand microzones
  • most seed guides use about a dozen zones
  • so we need to look for the wide-enough, simple-enough branch level if that makes sense
  • shouldn't be hard to find out. i have some seed catalogs
  • http://www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/ushzmap.html
  • perhaps there is a global chart
  • but i think that is a good breakdown plan. "usda hardiness zones"
  • plantings are based on this scale
  • if you are zone 9 you should plant this and this during these periods
  • http://web.archive.org/web/20110819074906/http://www.thegardenersresource.com:80/hardinesszones.html
  • if we make sure the zones correspond consistently so a zone 7 in the UK or US ... same climate
  • variables in soil, etc. but similar kits would work

i need a global map - and i'll look at the concepts behind the map - you see, in the canary islands there are microclimates


i'm sure i'll find it. i can find us and uk pretty easily...i'll probably need to search for each continent

well, we'll have to translate hardiness, maybe wikipedia has the translations and look at the concepts behind it, too

africa: http://web.archive.org/web/20100918195543/http://www.plantideas.com:80/zone/africa.html (need to talk to neighbours in some circumstances)

twitter notes[edit source]


  • What happens? A crisis happens. People stay put in an impoverished and more hostile environment, or move to a new place where they may not be welcome cos there's just too many of them. It's not unusual for people to stay in refugee camps for several years.
  • What do we have? SCIM, permacultural concepts, local haves, some global haves.
  • What do we need/want? Short term SCIM, with hexayurt & infrapak. Emergency permaculture tools/templates we're developing. Long term SCIM/permaculture hope. Stay alive ftw.
  • What do we do? SCIM: how is 6wtd covered now, and what's missing. Permacultural assessment done rapidly, with templates, looking at basic 6wtd, basic camp governability, basic contact with the outside world, and little else. Look at what you have with permacultural eyes, maybe taking video and asking for assessment, a la crisiscamp mapping, bringing in historical climate data and all the data for questions asked by permaculture practitioners. Ask for specific stuff from outside, and it's the locals who do the asking. Outside has concentric circles: close regions/countries first if possible. Look at the longer term.

Rest is yet unprocessed notes from twitter:

  • Short term needs, maybe with imported elements, covering basic needs and freeing energy to look at the longer term with permacultural notions. How is SCIM done by permaculturists?
  • It is about using what we have or can get easily. Sometimes stuff will be local. Sometimes not. Bootstrapping, not slavery.
  • Use permaculture concepts (design patterns, language of models, etc) in a crisis situation.
  • It needs to slice up the planet in similar-enough zones, 5-20 at most, and look at categories of plants & animals & designs.
  • It needs to work openly, to be robust & copied, in appropedia or similar venue. Closed kills value. "Users" = people. Trust 'em.
  • "Excellent concept - no sure the name fits though? No much chance to design in an emergency" Yep. Pre-pare. "Preplanned permaculture" may be what this is all abt: hexayurt+infrapak+permacultural assessment.
  • It would be about getting the very basics very soon, making room for whatever people wish to do next.
  • Both short term (hexayurt + infrapak) and longer term (growing food). Very different if the land is yours/useable or not.
  • It would be about doing SCIM with a permacultural eye. Simplify what's needed to the very basic stuff. A question: what's essential in permaculture that's useful in an emergency? Cross "permacultural design tools" x "18 SCIM categories"?
  • Have you looked at what people are doing currently in refugee camps? Seen some, need to revisit.

Adapted permaculture principles[edit source]

From Permaculture

  1. "Observe and interact. Take time to engage with nature, so we can design solutions for our particular situation." Our particular situation is we need to keep a number of people alive. The first step is we take notes of what's there, and maybe even take pictures and video. Give those observations away, as there will be help from afar.
  2. "Catch and store energy: Develop systems that collect resources when abundant, & use them in times of need." 'Times of need' is now. Energy is solar, wind, movement of people and animals. Energy is also whatever energy there's left in batteries, water that's at higher levels, wood and scraps. Look at everything as a resource.
  3. "Obtain a yield - Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing."
  4. "Apply self-regulation & accept feedback - Discourage inappropriate activity so systems continue to function well."
  5. "Use and value renewable resources and services - Make the best use of nature's abundance."
  6. "Produce no waste - Valuing and make use of all the resources available to us, so nothing goes to waste."
  7. "Design from patterns to details - Step back and observe patterns in nature and society. Details come after."
  8. "Integrate rather than segregate - Put the right things in the right place, so relationships and support develop." A typical refugee camp has mostly people, or it appears to be so in pictures. Maybe older people need to be near kids. Maybe those who know how to do certain things need to be in certain places.
  9. "Use small, slow solutions - easier to maintain than big systems, better use of local resources, more sustainable."
  10. "Use and value diversity - reduces vulnerability to threats and takes advantage of the of the environment."
  11. "Use edges & value the marginal - often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system."
  12. "Have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time."

Specific links[edit source]

More links from an attempt at a piratepad[edit source]

THINKING OUT LOUD[edit source]

Permaculture: It is a design methodology. Among its principles are starting small and taking it slowly. But of course small and slow can become big and fast; think small mutations to a small flu virus that at some point in time, suddenly, become a potentially very deadly pandemic.

Emergencies: There are humanitarian emergencies and there are ecosystemic emergencies. A flood or an earthquake may leave many people homeless and without basic supplies. Climate change may destroy forests and arable land. Timescales are very different, and we only act at one moment in time: now. Maybe writing an "exit" sign which will be used later.

Shoulders: Many people have been working in these areas. This page is just a tiny place to put some things together, with a view to helping accelerate the good, joining concepts, helping us create motivating pictures, so that more motion will happen.

Listening: Each of us knows what we know. Part of what needs to happen is that we listen to needs, solutions, impediments.

Agility: Scrum by Jeff Sutherland. What's the backlog for this project? How do we define "done"? Do we have time for say 4 two-week sprints?


Why[edit source]

The world changes all the time, and it looks like it's changing more and more rapidly. This demands a faster ability to respond to bad changes, both reactively or proactively.

Refugees figures have been going up (numbers, also as a proportion of total human population), and their length of time (figures). Add poverty (figures) and we see how a substantial proportion of human life (assume length of the better 20% x people) is shortened and made worse because of things we could be better at.

The ecosystem takes its toll. Species vanish. Soil, forests, etc. Numbers, numbers, numbers.

Time matters: refugees in Haiti became rehoused at this pace. Forests take this long to grow. Could we accelerate some elements of these processes, while getting at better results? Could we meta-accelerate the development process itself?

What[edit source]

SCIM for 10k refugees or extremely poor.

1 hectare of forest (edible or not).

Tech and teams and finance to provide for that.

How[edit source]







Next[edit source]

Add links, thoughts, people.

Bring from appropedia page and from indirect links.

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